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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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USA Today Sports

Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium. 

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